Tuesday, September 28, 2010

a monkey's guide to India (a summary of my road trip on the north south axis of India)

a diary illustration of my entire bike-trip from north to south india and the adventures and sights on the journey
this is a fairly concise summary of my wanderings across India on my insane travel quest. These are just my experiences, so please do not entirely believe them until you've experienced the same/or different on your own. cheers!

pangong lake - ladakh (Kashmir) 
Most incredible state in North India: KASHMIR
without a doubt the most scenic, most culturally inspiring, most photogenic place in India. The extreme climate may be a hassle for some, but the experience makes it all worth it. Good food, goood dope and even goooooder (read whacked out) roads to bike on. Living is cheap, food is nominal and travel is expensive - but if you have a bike, wear your sunscreen and have a good pair of glares and maybe a tent, you'll never forget this place in 10 lifetimes!!!

fluttering colourful prayer flags at the Leh palace
Most incredible state in the South India: KERALA

a lull, floating ride through the backwaters
scenic beaches, winding roads, white mist soaked hills, endless forests and sprawling backwater canals - it looks as if god put the best of everything into this one place! Definitely God's own country by all means. food you wont tire stuffing yourself with, getting healing ayurvedic massages, learning deadly ancient martial arts, riding elephants and rowing canoes - this is one places that lets you do it all - and it's dirt cheap!!! what more could you ask for??? 
kovalam beach - a sunset in heaven
MUSTHAVE foods in India
Jaipur-Jodhpur: Amritsari Naan with Sarson da Saag.
Mcleodgang (himachal pradesh): Momos and Thukpa (i know u get it all over india but trust me its nothing like this)
AndhraPradesh and Karnataka: Dum Biryani!!! yummmmm on the road sides :) bad in hotel. pls remember that.
Tamil-Nadu: Roadside MUTTUDOSAS (egg dosaa) - its the most filling and yummy 12 ruppee snack !
Kerela: Meen Polichatu and Karimeen Moleee..... yummmy fissshhyy foooodddddd :D
Goa: a beef steak and a tandoor/roast red snapper is my best bet on the beach shacks - its the ambiance that does it in i guess :)
i'd rather hog king coconuts than eat the food of k.k
Worst food in India: at KANYAKUMARI (Tamilnadu) 
talk about characterless food, and its here. they don't have a menu of their own - its stolen form all over india and prepared in their own version of it!!!! i ate chips and peanuts for 2 days that i was here!
heavenly sunset in kanyakumari - the saving grace

me at the vivekananda memorial/thiruvallur statue at kanyakumari (TN)
 The most boring state: Tamilnadu
why?????? coz according to their govt, every second temple is advertised as a tourist must visit destination - and besides temples, they practically have nothing!!! and even if they do, there'll be a temple right in the middle of it!!! the worst part is, all the temples are similar in architecture. yes they amaze you, but once you've seen 5, you've literally seen them all! add to that the fact that you ain't the religious type, and you are as bored as a walking zombie.

thiruvallur statue at sunset - kanyakumari
The state with the most shamelessly corrupt cops: KARNATAKA!!!!!! shocked??? I had also thought that Delhi would win hands down - but as a friend of mine put it across flawlessly: "cops in karnataka are so corrupt that for the right price, they'd screw their own mothers! for a little more, they'd let you join in too!"
despite having all papers in place i was pointlessly detained in 2 places in karnataka.
30 kms away from jog falls for 3 hours, they stop me and ask for papers. on seeing that i have all papers the cop says that my PUC certificate is not valid in Karnataka as it is yellow in colour and i need a BLUE one. They insist i pay a fine. I refuse. Then they play good cop bad cop and a chamcha cop asks me to settle the matter with a little money (read bribe). on refusing again, they all start talking to me in kannada as if they cant speak hindi or english and try to scare me into paying a fine. i refuse, pull up my bike, take out my sleeping bag and camp right there. 2 hours later, they miraculously all speak hindi again and even abuse in it!! and then they try giving me a lecture on ethics and value of time!!
another half hour later when they see that i wont pay a bribe, they return my papers and let me go.

even the lizards of tamilnadu are more co-operative than the cops of karnataka!
 WHAT MAKES THEM THE WORST? the fact that mumbai and delhi cops are corrupt with a sense of shame, they know what they are doing is wrong. Karanatak cops do it as a matter of pride!!! the car had a fine collection side and a bribe collection side - a derelict plastic bag was shabbily propped up on a seat to put in all the bribe money as if were santa claus's booty bag!
PS: i did get their Info - the cop was wearing his badge in a way that i couldnt read the name but he said his name was circle inspector Sagara.... and the patrol car they were in was registered KA 14 G 725.

should have taken this keralite elephant (beenu)
to help me traverse the roads of maharasthra!
Worst Roads in India: MAHARASHTRA travel on the roads of maharastra and you'll know exactly what i mean. back breaking madnesss! broken roads, gravel, dust, dirt, insects flying at your eyes, sweltering heat..... phewwwww! I know the geography of the region and the coastal belt erodes roads faster, but dont tell me the state that houses some of the best minds in the country and the economic capital of the country dosent have the mental and financial resources to solve the problems!!! if only you bastardly politicians had the time to look at management more than stuffing your own pockets!!!!

The theft, rape and crime capital of India: DELHI
all you have to do is board a metro looking like a tourist, or answer a call on a swanky phone at a bus-stand or walk a road alone at night and you'll discover it for yourself. visit a police station and look at the crime record board. it'll make you feel like a statistics professor or something. stolen phones, stolen wallets, mugging, drugging, house break-ins, conning, assault - its all there. seems like a crime menu of sorts - as if you can pick your own gourmet crime experience for a price. luckily, i just had my phone stolen in the metro.

biking haven- open roads, deadly rides J&K
Most amazing bike route in North India: Manali - Keylong - Leh Bike through rocks and mountains, landslides and snow slides, snow and rivers and streams, dust and gravel,amazingly clear mettaled roads and roads you'd need a compass to know the way on. the scenery is of-course a bonus to all this. The painful skin peeling sun burn you are likely to suffer, also tottally worth it.

allepy-periyar-munnar : the smoothest curves ever!
Most amazing Bike route in South India: Aleppy - Periyar - Munnar
If this route was a woman, i'd fall for her downright, left and centre. the most incredibly smooth and eye-grabbing curves any one could ask for. add to that mist so think that you only see white and grey, pepper in a few sudden bursts of lush greens and endless stretches of cultures tea plantations, sprinkle in a few encounters with snakes and elephants, stroke it with challenging muck fields and bumpy backwater roads and you have the ride you were looking for. what a babe... errr, i mean place!

kovalam beach lighthouse
Best Beach In India: KOVALAM (KERELA) Scenic beach, waters so clear you can see the fish and jelly fishes swimming in the water, no crappy public, deep shoreline to swim in (unlike most beaches which are more sand and less water), great surf to ride the waves and amazing art shops all around. cheap as hell and thank heavens not yet discovered as a major tourist place!!!! Im so so soooo going here at every chance i get!!!!

Shiva must have his presence in TN religion.
But the bum bole dopie crap rules Karnataka
 Best place for Drugs in India: KARNATAKA
i don't think i even need to explain why. its no wonder all the concerts in India are held in Bangalore. With corrupt cops running the state, hash, weed, mushrooms, ecstacy, heroin... you name it, its all available here. if you are a junkie, my darling, here you are in heaven.

a kalaripayatt performer blazes rings of fire with a staff
Most tourist friendly state in India: KERELA i considered quite a few parameters before deciding this. what struck it in is the massive absence of irritating touts in the state!!! unlike everywhere in India, they don't pester the shit out of you for a room, massage, this, that. tour, travel etc. they let you be! phewwww! what a relief that is!
secondly, even the waiters here speak atleast basic english and hindi along with their native language - which is a blessing if you have recently suffered TamilNadu.
and last but not the least, the modesty of the place is stunning. nothing is over hyped. Everything, every place, every place is aptly described and well worth every penny you pay for it. If you are a traveller, this state is the state you ought to travel in to really enjoy a journey.

planned a route on a road map, tracing off shoots from the golden quadrilateral. read up some suggesstions from the lonely planet - which is by the way the best travel assist ever. and then it was time for me and my bike to take off.
I could just keep writing this for hours and days and days together!!! so i think i'll just wrap this here. go out, grab a vehicle or just hop a bus or train and chase a unicorn around the country. you'll most probably find it sooner or later. or even if you don't you'll have experienced a country like no other - so diverse, so beautiful, so corrupt and yet so amazingly touching that you'll never be the same again. EVEN with or without the unicorn you were chasing :)

to living to the fullest,
Pushkaraj Shirke

NOTE: all illustrations and images have been created/clicked by me. in case you need any, i have RAW images of them all.


  1. pic dekhe sirf, haathi wala mast chhe!
    AND your sketch is already pinned up on my desk :)

  2. PUSH whenever, where ever you do this again I'm soooo coming with you!!!!
    XXXX Roxy :)

  3. Roxie, you are welcome anytime :) i'll be roadtripping again next year sometime - probably during the Indian winters - december maybe. will keep u updated :)


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